By Ayo Akinfe
(1) I have been wracking my brains about this and each time I come to a standstill. Our national budget is only $28bn when we have an annual infrastructural deficit of $100bn, our population is growing at a rate of 6.2% a year while our economy is only growing at a rate of 1.9% and our national gross domestic product (GDP) is a pitiful $400bn when we need at least $2trn. We simply need dramatic economic growth to get out of this rut
(2) As we speak, Nigeria is simply not growing economically and until that happens, I fail to see where salvation is coming from. Only Lagos State is attracting investment into Nigeria at a reasonable rate at the moment. For instance, the likes of Gokada, OPay, Max and ORide invested $100m in the Okada business. Has any other state in Nigeria even attracted $1m into its transport sector?
(3) Aliko Dangote invested $$20bn in his new Lekki refinery. I honestly do not see him or anyone else investing that much on any other state of the federation. It is no surprise that Lagos State not only attracts 95% of all the foreign direct investment (FDI) into Nigeria but also accounts for one quarter of our gross domestic product (GDP) and one third of non-oil GDP
(4) Simply put, if we can replicate the kind of investment we have seen in Lagos across all the other 35 states, Nigeria is home and dry but alas, there is no sign of this even being considered. Upon assuming office in 2007, President Yar’Adua lamented about the fact that there were no think tanks in Aso Rock. He found it unfathomable that the government worked without policy units. Until we sort that out, we are going nowhere. No one has come up with ideas about how to attract $1bn worth of investment into say Kebbi, Gombe, Kwara, Ondo, Abia of Delta states
(5) Neither of our two main parties have think tanks like say the Fabian Society whereby their sharp young minds sit down and brainstorm. Until they create such bodies, neither of them are going to produce thinking governors, ministers or presidents. I just do not see any roadmap whatsoever on the horizon to bring about economic growth. Consequently, we are going round in incoherent circles, living at the mercy of volatile global crude oil prices and hoping that we will just get lucky
(6) Just a few days ago, the Borno State governor handed a teacher a large wad of cash for being at work at 6.30am. He has been widely praised for the gesture but no one has asked why governors carry the state treasuries around with them in the boots of their cars. Now, a think tank will have pointed out that this kind of action is what fuels corruption. Nothing stops governors pocketing such cash themselves. In a thinking society, the governor would have handed the teacher a promissory note, which she can take to the state treasury to cash and be issued with a receipt. If we are to grow, we need paper trails for all government expenditure. All this has been lost in the euphoria of celebrating this lovely dutiful teacher
(7) I now ask myself how can Governor Zulum of Borno State attract investment. In his case, if he can match the $100m invested in the Lagos taxi motorcycle industry annually, he is home and dry. For now though, no sector is Borno State is being sold to anyone. I find it hard to understand why a security investor has not been given a franchise to eliminate Boko Haram once and for all
(8) In 2020, both India and Ethiopia are hopeful of recording double digit economic growth. They actually are both targeting 10.8% growth rates. Are we really going to just stand by and watch as our economy only grows at 1.9%? We are only attracting about $2bn in FDI a year when we should be attracting $200bn, yet alarm bells are not ringing.
(9) In 1928, Joseph Stalin introduced a five year economic plan that saw the Soviet Union enjoy 28% economic growth rates. Seeing your GDP grow by 28% for five back-to-back years is something we can only dream of in Nigeria. I will easily settle for 10% today if offered it
(10) Nothing short of 10% growth rates will resolve Nigeria’s economic woes. Between 1999 and 2015, Nigeria enjoyed an average GDP growth rate of 6% and it did not take us to the Promised Land, so nothing short of double digit economic growth will suffice. When you actually do the arithmetic and add the 6.2% population growth, migration from neighbouring African nations and inflation, you will realise that we need to enjoy 10% growth just to make slight progress. With say 15% growth, yes, then we will start to prosper.